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Agnes Martin 



Agnes Marti 

New York, Early 6o's / Fruhe 6oer Jahre © Peter Moore 

Agnes Martin 


Edited by / Herausgegeben von Dieter Schwarz 


Kunstmuseum Winterthur / Edition Cantz 


It might seem surprising to see the writings of Agnes Martin 
being published in a book, for this artist born in Maklin, 
Saskatchewan, in 1912 has never put aside her painting in favor 
of theoretical manifestoes or programmatic statements. Agnes 
Martin is an artist who has abandoned painting only occasion- 
ally when she was engaged in drawing or making watercolors. 
What Agnes Martin has presented is in fact a decidedly pure 
painterly body of work that seems reserved exclusively to visual 
perception and from which all literary allusions or representa- 
tional references are banished. And yet we have a stately volume 
with the artist’s writings of the past twenty years before us. 

Only a few surviving notes from the fifties and the early sixties 
provide us with an insight into Agnes Martin’s thinking of that 
time. Next to external difficulties that led to the loss of numer- 
ous paintings, her self-critical attitude is also to blame that only 
fragments of her early work have survived. As she herself has 
declared, she destroyed her early paintings in the course of the 
last few decades as far as she still had access to them for, 
according to her view, her work does not follow a genealogical 
line. Just as little should it supply documentary reference points 
for any kind of evolution or development. Such aspects are 
extraneous to the claims of absoluteness and timelessness that 
her painting demands. So it would be wrong to assume that 
Agnes Martin’s work evolved towards the activity of writing. 
The reason for recording her ideas at a given moment was an 
invitation by the Institute of Contemporary Art of the University 
of Pennsylvania to deliver a lecture. She was in a longer period 
of abstention from painting then. Since she had left New York 
for New Mexico in 1967 because she had lost her apartment in 
the artist’s community Coenties Slip at the southern tip of 
Manhattan, she had not painted any more. Only in 1974 would 
she take up to her work as an artist again, with On a Clear Day, 
a series of prints. 


The lecture On the Perfection Underlying Life was completed 
only after numerous onsets — the published version of the 
manuscript is entitled “Beginning No. 5”. This speech addressed 
to young artists is neither an autobiographical review by an 
artist of an older generation nor an essayistic reflexion about the 
chosen subject. No, this is a true speech, a monologue in which 
each new element joins the preceding sentence or idea in a 
seemingly clumsy pace that allows every sentence to unfold in an 
uniform way. Agnes Martin delivers precise statements on the 
artist and his work, the solitude of the artist, on notions like 
beauty and truth. Yet the result is'more than a mere statement. 
In the process of writing, in thi% mner speech, the conviction 
grows on her that the ideas that result from personal experience, 
that the particular individual experience of the artist inevitably 
become detached from the personal and turn into universal 
truths. The handwritten lecture moves away from the painting it 
cannot reproduce, but it attempts to transmit analogically the 
hopeful awareness of the unity of truth and beauty in the work 
of art. 

Writing and speaking: the precise form of Agnes Martin’s talk 
led the critic Ann Wilson to write down some of the stories that 
often recur in the artist’s conversation, without interfering too 
strongly with the flow of her words. This is how, along with 
other texts, The Untroubled Mind has come about. In retrospect 
Agnes Martin meets this text — it has been published several 
times — and the lectures she wrote down herself with the same 
friendly scepticism. In re-reading her texts, she is doubtful when 
trying to bring back to mind her own thoughts. She is sceptical 
about the manuscript that has become conclusive by being 
reproduced. Her manuscripts are collected and published by 
others. She has discarded things that were of no more impor- 
tance to her, things like manuscripts of speeches and lectures 
once they were held. 

In the tension that exists between the abiding static form of the 
individual paragraphs and the dynamic narrative pull of the 
text, the flow of words in such a lecture transmits something of 
the emphasis and the subtle impatience that also characterize 
the paintings of Agnes Martin. These pictures that seem so calm 
are the result of an intensive, moved process of painting whose 


physical intensity is not expressed in gestural brushwork but 
through the insistence through which Agnes Martin pursues a 
pictorial idea day after day. Most of the results of this continu- 
ous painterly work are rejected or painted over. Eventually only 
a few paintings are left. Those that seem successful to her, in 
which she sees her idea of leaving the preconceived, fixed form 
left behind and where the concept of creating a space for 
perception is realized stroke by stroke, line by line: 

“My paintings have neither object nor space nor line nor 
anything — no forms. They are light, lightness, about merging, 
about formlessness, breaking down form. You wouldn’t think 
of form by the ocean. You can go in if you don’t encounter 
anything. A world without objects, without interruption, mak- 
ing a work without interruption or obstacle. It is to accept the 
necessity of the simple direct going into a field of vision as you 
would cross an empty beach to look at the ocean.” 

Dieter Schwarz 



I hope I have made it clear that the work is about perfection as 
we are aware of it in our minds but that the paintings are very 
far from being perfect — completely removed in fact — even as we 
ourselves are. 


In graphic arts and all the arts technique is a hazard even as it is 
in living life. 


Everyone recognizes the nature pattern of unequal and contest- 
ing or related parts. 

Classicism foresakes the nature pattern. 


The underside of the leaf 
Cool in shadow 
Sublimely unemphatic 
Smiling of innocence 

The frailest stems 
Quivering in light 
Bend and break 
In silence 

This poem, like the paintings, is not really about nature. It is not 
what is seen. It is what is known forever in the mind. 



The silence on the floor of my house 

Is all the questions and all the answers that have been known in 
the world 

The sentimental furniture threatens the peace 
The reflection of a sunset speaks loudly of days 


Huang Po, page 50, John Blofeld: 

The Buddha has three bodies 

the Dharntakaya — the void-pure mind, freedom 

the Sambhogakaya — the underlying purity (the classic) 

the Nirmanakaya — ritualistic 

The last two are not real teachers of the true Dharnta 


Art work has only a tintering of what it attempts to represent to 
the artist and to responsive observers. It is not beneficial, 
nothing is gained from it, and it does not tell the truth. It is 
enjoyed or not according to the condition of the observer. A 
very small gesture of exultation. 


Good criticism by Robert Coates in the New Yorker Magazine, 
Sept, or Oct. 1961. 

Comparison with Albers who was showing in Janis G. at the 


The struggle of existence, non existence is not my struggle. The 
establishment of the perfect state not mine to do. Being outside 
that struggle I turn to perfection as I see it in my mind, and as 
I also see it with my eyes even in the dust. 

Although I do not represent it very well in my work, all seeing 
the work, being already familiar with the subject, are easily 
reminded of it. 


1 6 

In my best moments I think “Life has passed me by” and I am 

Walking seems to cover time and space but in reality we are 
always just where we started. I walk but in reality I am hand in 
hand with contentment on my own doorstep. 

The ocean is deathless 
The islands rise and die 
Quietly come, quietly go 
A silent swaying breath 

1 wish the idea of time would drain out of my cells and leave me 
quiet even on this shore. 


We cannot even imagine how to be humble. 

1 can see humility 
Delicate and white 
It is satisfying 
Just by itself 

And Trust 
absolute trust 
a gift 

a precious gift 

1 would rather think of humility than anything else. 

Humility, the beautiful daughter 

She cannot do either right or wrong 

She does not do anything 

All of her ways are empty 

Infinitely light and delicate 

She treads an even path 

Sweet, smiling, uninterrupted, free 



The Thinking Reed 

We need more and different flags. 

What is the worm of the world that spoils exultation? 

One who has become all eyes does not see. 

To try to understand is to court misunderstanding. 

Not to know but to go on. 

Anything is a mirror. 

There are two endless directions. In and out. 


Response to Art 

When we go to museums we do not just look, we make a 
definite response to the work. As we look at it we are happier or 
more sad, more at peace or more depressed. A work may 
stimulate yearning, helplessness, belligerence or remorse. 

The cause of the response is not traceable in the work. An artist 
cannot and does not prepare for a certain response. He does not 
consider the response but simply follows his inspiration. 

Works of art are not purposely conceived. The response depends 
upon the condition of the observer. 


In our minds there is an awareness of perfection and when we 
look with our eyes we see it. 

I would like my work to be recognized as being in the classic 
tradition (Coptic, Egyptian, Greek, Chinese), as representing the 
Ideal in the mind. Classical art can not possibly be eclectic. One 
must see the Ideal in one’s own mind. It is like a memory of 


The adventurous state of mind is a high house. 

To enjoy life the adventurous state of mind must be grasped and 

The essential feature of adventure is that it is a going forward 
into unknown territory. 

The joy of adventure is unaccountable. 

This is the attractiveness of art work. It is adventurous, strenu- 
ous and joyful. 


Short Essays 

Especially when the morning air is struck alive 
Especially when the stream runs cool and the grass drinks 
Especially in sweet sleep when small waves go back on 

Clear shining tumbling gay 
Soft lifting serene 
Allaying thirst 
Freshness enters 


Because 1 cannot see 

Because I cannot know my desire 

Because of burning and ashes 

I am looking on my own death 

Now in desperation I will help this one, that one 

But there will be no help given 

There will be hope and determination and no breathing 


Answer to an Inquiry 

My formats are square, but the grids never are absolutely 
square; they are rectangles, a little bit off the square, making a 
sort of contradiction, a dissonance, though I didn’t set out to do 
it that way. When I cover the square surface with rectangles, it 
lightens the weight of the square, destroys its power. 


I’d like to talk about the perfection underlying life 
when the mind is covered over with perfection 
and the heart is filled with delight 
but 1 wish not to deny the rest. 

In our minds, there is awareness of perfection; 

when we look with our eyes we see it, 

and how it functions is mysterious to us and unavailable. 

When we live our lives it’s something like a race - our minds 
become concerned and covered over and we get depressed and 
have to get away for a holiday. 

And then sometimes there are moments of perfection 

and in these moments we wonder why we ever thought life was 


We think that at last our feet are on the right path and that we 
will not falter or fail. 

We’re absolutely convinced we have the solution and then the 
moment is over. 

Moments of awareness are not complete awareness, 
just as moments of blindness are not completely blind. 

In moments of blindness when you meet someone you know 

they seem hardly recognizable, 

and one seems even a stranger to oneself. 

These experiences of the mind are too quickly passed over and 

although startling moments of awareness are never forgotten. 
Seeking awareness of perfection in the mind is called 
living the inner life. 

It is not necessary for artists to live the inner life. 

It is only necessary for them to recognize inspiration or to 
represent it. 

Our representations of inspiration are far from perfect 
for perfection is unobtainable and unattainable. 


Moments of awareness of perfection and of inspiration are alike 
except that inspirations are often directives to action. 

Many people think that if they are attuned to fate, all their 
inspirations will lead them toward what they want and need. 

But inspiration is really just the guide to the next thing 
and may be what we call success or failure. 

The bad paintings have to be painted 

and to the artist these are more valuable than those paintings 
later brought before the public. 

A work of art is successful when there is a hint of perfection 
present — 

at the slightest hint . . . the work is alive. 

The life of the work depends upon the observer, according to his 
own awareness of perfection and inspiration. 

The responsibility of the response to art is not with the artist. 

To feel confident and successful is not natural to the artist. 

To feel insufficient, 

to experience disappointment and defeat in waiting for 

is the natural state of mind of an artist. 

As a result praise to most artists is a little embarrassing. 

They cannot take credit for inspiration, 

for we can see perfectly, but we cannot do perfectly. 

Many artists live socially without disturbance to mind, 

but others must live the inner experiences of mind, a solitary 

way of living. 

The Untroubled Mind 

People think that painting is about color 
It’s mostly composition 
It’s composition that’s the whole thing 
The classic image — 

Two late Tang dishes, one with a flower image, 

one empty — the empty form goes all the way to heaven 

It is the classic form — lighter weight 

My work is anti-nature 

The four-story mountain 

You will not think form, space, line, contour 

Just a suggestion of nature gives weight 

light and heavy 

light like a feather 

you get light enough and you levitate 
When I say it’s alive, it’s inspired 

Inspiration and life are equivalents and they come from 

Beauty is pervasive 
inspiration is pervasive 
We say this rose is beautiful 

and when this rose is destroyed then we have lost something 

so that beauty has been lost 

When the rose is destroyed we grieve 

but really beauty is unattached 

and a clear mind sees it 

The rose represents nature 

but it isn’t the rose 

beauty is unattached, it’s inspiration — it’s inspiration 
The development of sensibility, the response to beauty 
In early childhood, when the mind is untroubled, is when 
inspiration is most possible 
The little child just sitting in the snow 


The education of children - social development is contradictory 
to aesthetic development 

Nature is conquest, possession, eating, sleeping, procreation 
It is not aesthetic, not the kind of inspiration I’m interested in 
Nature is the wheel 

When you get off the wheel you’re looking out 

You stand with your back to the turmoil 

You never rest with nature, it’s a hungry thing 

Every animal that you meet is hungry 

Not that 1 don’t believe in eating 

but I just want to make the distinction between 

art and eating 

This painting I like because you can get in there and rest 

The satisfaction of appetite happens to be impossible 

The satisfaction of appetite is frustrating 

So it’s always better to be a little bit hungry 

That way you contradict the necessity 

Not that I’m for asceticism 

but the absolute trick in life is to find rest 

If there’s life in the composition it stimulates your life moments, 

your happy moments, your brain is stimulated 

Saint Augustine says that milk doesn’t come from the mother 

I painted a painting called Milk River 

Cows don’t give milk if they don’t have grass and water 

Tremendous meaning of that is that painters can’t give 

anything to the observer 

People get what they need from a painting 

The painter need not die because of responsibility 

When you have inspiration and represent inspiration 

The observer makes the painting 

The painter has no responsibility to stimulate his needs 

It’s all an enormous process 

No suffering is unnecessary 

All of it is only enlightening, this is life 

Asceticism is a mistake 

sought out suffering is a mistake 

but what comes to you free is enlightening 

I used to paint mountains here in New Mexico and I thought 

my mountains looked like ant hills 

I saw the plains driving out of New Mexico and 1 thought 
the plain had it 
just the plane 

If you draw a diagonal, that’s loose at both ends 
I don’t like circles — too expanding 
When I draw horizontals 

you see this big plane and you have certain feelings like 
you’re expanding over the plane 
Anything can be painted without representation 
I don’t believe in influence 

unless it’s you, yourself following your own track 

Why, you’d never get anywhere 

I don’t believe in the eclectic 

I believe in the recurrence 

That this is a return to classicism 

Classicism is not about people 

and this work is not about the world 

We called Greek classicism Idealism 

Idealism sounds like something you can strive for 

They didn’t strive for idealism at all 

Just follow what Plato has to say 

Classicists are people that look out with their back to the world 

It represents something that isn’t possible in the world 

More perfection than is possible in the world 

It’s as unsubjective as possible 

The ideal in America is the natural man 

The conqueror, the one that can accumulate 

The one who overcomes disadvantages, strength, courage 

Whereas inspiration, classical art depends on inspiration 

The Sylphides — I depend on the muses 

Muses come and help me now 

It exists in the mind 

Before it’s represented on paper it exists in the mind 

The point — it doesn’t exist in the world 

The classic is cool 

a classical period 

it is cool because it is impersonal 

the detached and impersonal 

If a person goes walking in the mountains that is not detached 


and impersonal, he’s just looking back 

Being detached and impersonal is related to freedom 

That’s the answer for inspiration 

The untroubled mind 

Plato says that all that exists are shadows 

To a detached person the complication of the involved life 

is like chaos 

If you don’t like the chaos you’re a classicist 

If you like it you’re a romanticist 

Someone said all human emotion is an idea 

Painting is not about ideas or personal emotion 

When I was painting in New York I was not so clear about that 

Now I’m very clear that the object is freedom 

not political freedom, which is the echo 

not freedom from social mores 

freedom from mastery and slavery 

freedom from what’s dragging you down 

freedom from right and wrong 

In Genesis Eve ate the apple of knowledge 

of good and evil 

When you give up the idea of right and wrong 

you don’t get anything 

What you do is get rid of everything 

freedom from ideas and responsibility 

If you live by inspiration then you do what comes to you 

you can’t live the moral life, you have to obey destiny 

you can’t live the inspired life and live the conventions 

you can’t make promises 

The future’s a blank page 

I pretended I was looking at the blank page 

I used to look in my mind for the unwritten page 

if my mind was empty enough I could see it 

I didn’t paint the plane 

I just drew this horizontal line 

Then I found out about all the other lines 

But I realized what I liked was the horizontal line 

Then I painted the two rectangles 

correct composition 

if they’re just right 


You can’t get away from what you have to do 

They arrive at an interior balance 

like there shouldn’t need to be anything added 

People see a color that’s not there 

our responses are stimulated 

I’m painting them for direct light 

With these rectangles I didn’t know at the time exactly why 
1 painted those rectangles 
From Isaiah, about inspiration 
“Surely the people is grass” 

You go down to the river 

you’re just like me 

an orange leaf is floating 

you’re just like me 

Then I drew all those rectangles 

All the people were like those rectangles 

they are just like grass 

That’s the way to freedom 

If you can imagine you’re a grain of sand 

you know the rock ages 

If you imagine that you’re a rock 

rock of ages cleft from me 

let me hide myself in thee 

You don’t have to worry 

if you can imagine that you’re a rock 

all your troubles fall away 

It’s consolation 

Sand is better 

You’re so much smaller as a grain of sand 
We are so much less 

These paintings are about freedom from the cares of this world 
from wordliness 
Not religion 

You don’t have to be religious to have inspirations 

Senility is looking back with nostalgia 

senility is lack of inspiration in life 

Art restimulates inspirations and awakens sensibilities 

that’s the function of art 

A boy whenever he had a problem 


he called this rock up out of the mud 
he turned into a rock 
he summoned a vision of quiet 
The idea is independence and solitude 
nothing religious in my retirement 
religion from my point of view 
it’s about this grass 

The grass enjoyed it when the wind blew 

It really enjoyed the wind leaning this way and that 

So the grass thought the wind is a great comfort 

besides that it blows the clouds here which make rain 

In fact we owe all our self being to the wind 

We should tell the wind our gratitude 

perhaps if we fall down and abase ourselves 

We can get more — we can avoid suffering 

That’s religion 

solitude and independence for a free mind 

Nothing that happens in your life makes inspiration 

When your eyes are open 

you see beauty in anything 

Blake’s rightabout there’s no difference 

between the whole thing 

and one thing 

Freedom from suffering 

suffering is necessary for freedom from suffering 

First you have to find out about what you’re suffering from 

My painting is about impotence 

We are ineffectual 

In a big picture a blade of grass amounts to not very much 

Worries fall off you when you can believe that 

pride is in abeyance when you think that 

One thing I’ve got a good grip on is remorse 

The whole wave 

it applies to life, the wave 

As it was in the beginning, there was no division 
and no separation 
Don’t look at the stars 

Then your mind goes freely - way, way beyond 
Look between the rain 


the drops are insular 
Try to remember before you were born 
The conqueror will fight with you 
if there’s no one else around 

I am constantly tempted to think that I can help save myself 
by looking into my mind I can see what’s there 
by bringing thoughts to the surface of my mind I can watch 
them dissolve 

I can see my ego and see its intentions 
1 can see that it is the same as all nature 
1 can see that it is myself and impotent like all nature 
impotent in the process of dissolution of ego, of itself 
I can see that its main intention is the conquest and destruction 
of ego, of self 

and can only go back and forth in constant battle with itself 
repeating itself 

It would be an endless battle if it were all up to ego 
because it does not destroy and is not destroyed by itself 
It is like a wave 

it makes itself up, it rushes forward getting nowhere really 
it crashes, withdraws and makes itself up again 
pulls itself together with pride 
towers with pride 

rushes forward into imaginary conquest 

crashes in frustration 

withdraws with remorse and repentance 

pulls itself together with new resolution 

Individually and collectively the same 

children trained in pride and patriotism 

towering in national spirit 

charging in conquest 

Victory and defeat and frustration 

withdrawing and repentance 

then once more pride 

the wheel of life 



Victory defeat frustration 
remorse repentance 




More people at an earlier age see the conqueror in themselves 

then see the way out in another process 

the real defeat of ego in which we have no part 

The dissolution of ego in reality as it was in the beginning 

as it was before we were separate and insular 

the process we call destiny 

in which we are the material to be dissolved 

We eat 

We procreate 

We die 

We can see the process and recognize suffering as the defeat of 
ego by the process of destiny 

We can relinquish pride, conquest, remorse and resolution 

inevitably as destiny unfolds 

Cradled on the mountain I can rest 

Solitude and freedom are the same 

under every fallen leaf 

Others do not really exist in solitude, 1 do not exist 

no thinking of others even when they are there, no interruption 

a mystic and a solitary person are the same 

Night, shelterless, wandering 

I, like the deer, looked 

finding less and less 

living is grazing 

memory is chewing cud 

wandering away from everything 

giving up everything 

not me anymore, any of it 

retired ego, wandering 

on the mountain 

no more conquests, no longer an enemy to anyone 
ego retired, wandering 
no longer a friend, master, slave 

all the opposites dead to the world and himself unresponsible 
perhaps I can now really enjoy sailing 
adventure in the dark 
very exciting 

4 Z 

Beast seems to be stretched out dead 
He is very mild 

1 will not be seeking adventure but it might happen 1 suppose 

Inspired action is destiny 

our feet are in the paths of righteousness 

the paths that our feet take are marked 

As the river runs to the sea 

and the plant grows to the sun 

so do we flow and grow and exist 

Ecstasy playing with Sylphides angels 

As long as I look in my mind and see nothing at all 

The Sylphides have the beast captured and are grooming him 

very pleasant sun, that is what destiny is like 

it is like grooming 

The idea 

the sudden realization of the destruction of innocence by ego 

In solitude there is consolation 

thinking of others and myself, even plants 

I am immediately apprehensive 

because my solitude has been interrupted 

solitude, inspiration 

Westward down the mountain 

I am nothing absolutely 

There is this other thing going on 

the purification of reality 

that is all that is happening 

all that happens is that process 

not nature, the dissolution of nature 

The error is in thinking we have 

a part to play in the process 

As long as we think that, we are in resistance 

I can see that I have nothing to do with the process 

It is very pleasant 

The all of all, reality, mind 

the process of destiny 

like the ocean full to the brim 

like a dignified journey with no trouble and no goal on and on 

other than nature 



Everyone is chosen and everyone knows it 
including animals and plants 
There is only the all of the all 
everything is that 

every infinitesimal thought and action is part and parcel of 
a wonderful victory 

“freedom on the mountain, a glimpse of victory” 

We seem to be winning and losing assassination of a 


Willie Stories 

When they were draggin’ Willie through the river Lethe he 
practically drowned the devils all three. When he got to the 
other side he saw the iron mountains there — solid iron, you 

There’s a big fire in the middle of the mountain, you know. 
Willie saw the damned there. 

Willie took one look at the damned. 

He jumped right in the middle of the fire. 

The devils called: “Come out, you’re not supposed to do that.” 
They could see him sitting in there. 

They came back, and he was still sitting in there, a glowing 

and on the third day he came out 
and he was immune to the flames 
and he walked right up to satan’s office 
and he signed up to be a devil. 

Willie was very fond of his mother when he was little. He prayed 
to God and said: “Please God I want to love my mother with my 
whole heart and soul. And 1 want everything to be like it is now.” 
And God answered: “Okay Willie.” 

Then Willie met this beautiful woman. 

“As a matter of fact I want you to change that, I want you to 
make it that 1 love my wife.” 

“Okay Willie.” 

And Willie had a son. 

And he says: “I want that changed.” 

And God said to the angels: “Take care of Willie.” 

And the angels said: “What are we going to do with these 
human beings they all want the same thing and want it 

And God says: “Arrange it that way. Everything stays the same and 
everything changes. What is in the world is really opposites.” 


Parable of the Equal Hearts 

Once there were two lovers that had equal hearts. 

One would pursue one, 

the other would pursue the other. 

Then the angels looked down and said: 

“What a waste”, and made them perceive each other. 

Their hearts melted into one. 

They had no use for the world 
so they leaped into the swift river. 

This heart was always restless 

and the only place where it had any rest at all was on the beach. 
But even on the beach one said: 

“1 wish we’d never been made one.” 

And immediately one half flew up in the sky 
and the other half into the sea. 

But they yearned for each other. 

And when it rained the one in the sea said: 

“This is a message from my other half in the sky.” 

And when the water was evaporated from the ocean and rose 
up, the other said: 

“This is a message from my other half in the sea.” 

The angels were stumped. 

There’s one thing that God is not able to endure — 
a suffering heart. 

He felt one half in the sky and one half in the sea. 

God thought what to do. 

So the one in the sky fell down into the sea 
and immediately both turned to sea water. 

Ever since that time when the water is drawn up from the sea 
and it rains this is not an ordinary rain. It’s the rain that affects 
people and softens them. I painted a painting called This Rain. 


Lecture at Cornell University 

I want to talk to you about “the work”, art work. 

I will speak of inspiration, the studio, viewing art work, friends 
of art, and artists’ temperaments. 

But your interest and mine is really “the work” — works of art. 
Art work is very important in the way that I will try to show 
when I speak about inspiration. 

1 have sometimes put myself ahead of my work in my mind and 
have suffered in consequence. 

I thought me, me; and I suffered. 

I thought I was important. I was taught to think that. I was 
taught: “"You are important; people are important beyond any- 
thing else.” 

But thinking that I suffered very much. 

I thought that I was big and “the work” was small. It is not 
possible to go on that way. To think I am big is the work is big. 
The position of pride is not possible either. 

And to think I am small and the work is small, the position of 
modesty, is not possible. 

1 will go on to inspiration and perhaps you will see what is 

As I describe inspiration I do not want you to think I am 
speaking of religion. 

That which takes us by surprise — moments of happiness — that 
is inspiration. Inspiration which is different from daily care. 
Many people as adults are so startled by inspiration which is 
different from daily care that they think they are unique in 
having had it. Nothing could be further from the truth. 
Inspiration is there all the time. 

For everyone whose mind is not clouded over with thoughts 
whether they realize it or not. 

Most people have no realization whatever of the moments in 
which they are inspired. 

6 1 

Inspiration is pervasive but not a power. 

It’s a peaceful thing. 

It is a consolation even to plants and animals. 

Do not think that it is unique. 

If it were unique no one would be able to respond to your work. 
Do not think it is reserved for a few or anything like that. 

It is an untroubled mind. 

Of course we know that an untroubled state of mind cannot 
last. So we say that inspiration comes and goes but really it is 
there all the time waiting for us to be untroubled again. We can 
therefore say that it is pervasive. Young children are more 
untroubled than adults and have many more inspirations. All 
the moments of inspiration added together make what we call 
sensibility. The development of sensibility is the most important 
thing for children and adults but is much more possible in 
children. In adults it would be more accurate to say that the 
awakening to their sensibility is the most important thing. Some 
parents put the development of social mores ahead of aesthetic 
development. Small children are taken to the park for social 
play; sent to nursery school and headstart. But the little child 
sitting alone, perhaps even neglected and forgotten, is the one 
open to inspiration and the development of sensibility. 

6 z 

On the Perfection Underlying Life 

The process of life is hidden from us. The meaning of suffering is 
held from us. And we are blind to life. 

We are blinded by pride. Pride has built another structure and it is 
called “Life”, but living the prideful life we are frustrated and lost. 
It is not possible to overthrow pride. It is not possible because 
we ourselves are pride, Pride the Dragon and Pride the Deceiver 
as it is called in mythology. But we can witness the defeat of 
pride because pride cannot hold out. Pride is not real, so sooner 
or later it must go down. 

When pride in some form is lost we feel very different. We feel 
the victory over pride, and we feel very different being for a few 
moments free of pride. We feel a moment of perfection that is 
indescribable, a sudden joy in living. 

Our best opportunity to witness the defeat of pride is in our 
work, in all the time that we are working and in the work itself. 
Work is self expression. We must not think of self-expression as 
something we may do or something we may not do. Self- 
expression is inevitable. In your work, in the way that you do 
your work and in the results of your work your self is expressed. 
Behind and before self-expression is a developing awareness in 
the mind that effects the work. This developing awareness I will 
also call “the work”. It is a most important part of the work. 
There is the work in our minds, the work in our hands and the 
work as a result. 

In your work, in everyone’s work, in the work of the world, the 
work that reminds of pride is gradually abandoned. Having in 
moments of perfection enjoyed freedom from pride we know 
that that is what we want. With this knowing we recognize and 
eliminate expressions of pride. 

I will now speak directly to the art students present as an 
illustration of the wmrk, with particular references to art work. 
My interest and yours is art work, works of art, every smallest 
work of art and every kind of art work. We are very interested. 


dedicated in fact. There is no halfway with art. We wake up 
thinking about it and we go to sleep thinking about it. 

We go everywhere looking for it, both artists and non-artists. It 
is very mysterious the fast hold that it has upon us considering 
how little we know about it. We do not even understand our 
own response to our own work. 

Why do we go everywhere searching out works of art and why do 
we make works of art. The answer is that we are inspired to do so. 
When we wake up in the morning we are inspired to do some 
certain thing and we do do it. The difficulty lies in the fact that it 
may turn out well or it may not turn out well. If it turns out well 
we have a tendency to think that we have successfully followed 
our inspiration and if it does not turn out well we have a 
tendency to think that we have lost our inspiration. But that is 
not true. There is successful work and work that fails but all of it 
is inspired. I will speak later about successful works of art but 
here 1 want to speak of failures. Failures that should be dis- 
carded and completely cut off. 

1 have come especially to talk to those among you who recognize 
these failures. I want particularly to talk to those who recognize 
all of their failures and feel inadequate and defeated, to those 
who feel insufficient — short of what is expected or needed. I 
would like somehow to explain that these feelings are the 
natural state of mind of the artist, that a sense of disappointment 
and defeat is the essential state of mind for creative work. 

In order to do this 1 would like to consider further those 
moments in which we feel joy in living. To some, these moments 
are very clear and to others a vagueness that can only be 
described as below the level of consciousness. Whether con- 
scious or unconscious they do their work and they are the 
incentive to life. A stockpile of these moments gives us an 
awareness of perfection in our minds and this awareness of 
perfection in our minds makes all the difference in what we do. 
Moments of perfection are indescribable but a few things can be 
said about them. At such times we are suddenly very happy and 
we wonder why life ever seemed troublesome. In an instant we 
can see the road ahead free from all difficulties and we think 
that we will never lose it again. All this and a great deal more in 
barely a moment, and then it is gone. 


But all such moments are stored in the mind. They are called 
sensibility or awareness of perfection in the mind. 

We must surrender the idea that this perfection that we see in 
the mind or before our eyes is obtainable or attainable. It is 
really far from us. We are no more capable of having it than the 
infant that tries to eat it. But our happiness lies in our moments 
of awareness of it. 

The function of art work is the stimulation of sensibilities, the 
renewal of memories of moments of perfection. 

There is only one way in which artists can serve this function of 
art. There is only one way in which successful works of art can 
be made. To make works of art that stimulate sensibilities and 
renew moments of perfection an artist must recognize the works 
that illustrate his own moments of perfection. 

Perfection, of course, cannot be represented. The slightest indi- 
cation of it is eagerly grasped by observers. The work is so far 
from perfection because we ourselves are so far from perfection. 
The oftener we glimpse perfection or the more conscious we are 
in our awareness of it the farther away it seems to be. Or 
perhaps I should say the more we are aware of perfection the 
more we realize how very far away from us it is. That is why art 
work is so very hard. It is a working through disappointments 
and a growing recognition of failure to the point of defeat. But 
still one wakes in the morning and there is the inspiration and 
one goes on. 

I want to emphasize the fact that increase in disappointment 
does not mean going backward in the work. There is no such 
thing as going backward in anything. There is increased and 
decreased awareness, that is all, and increased awareness means 
increased disappointments. If any perfection is indicated in the 
work it is recognized by the artist as truly miraculous so he feels 
that he can take no credit for its sudden appearance. 

What does it mean to be defeated. It means that we cannot go 
on. We cannot make another move. Everything that we thought 
we could do we have done without result. We even give up all 
hope of getting the work and perhaps even the desire to have it. 
But we still go on without hope or desire or dreams or anything. 
Just going on with almost no memory of having done anything. 
Then it is not us. 


Then it is not I. 

Then it is not conditioned response. 

Then there is some hope of a hint of perfection. 

Without hope there is hope. 

And without desire there is hope. 

We do not ever stop because there is no way to stop. No matter 
what you do you will not escape. There is no way out. You may 
as well go ahead with as little resistance as possible - and eat 
everything on your plate. 

Going on without resistance or notions is called discipline. 
Going on where hope and desire have been left behind is 

Going on in an impersonal way without personal considerations 
is called a discipline. 

Not thinking, planning, scheming is a discipline. 

Not caring or striving is a discipline. 

Defeated, you will rise to your feet as is said of Dry Bones. 
These bones will rise again. 

Undefeated you will have nothing to say but more of the same. 
Defeated you will stand at the door of your house to welcome 
the unknown, putting behind you all that is known. 

Defeated, having no place to go you will perhaps wait and be 

As in the night. To penetrate the night is one thing. But to be 
penetrated by the night that is to be overtaken. 

Defeated, exhausted and helpless you will perhaps go a little bit 

Helplessness, even a mild state of helplessness is extremely hard 
to bear. Moments of helplessness are moments of blindness. One 
feels as though something terrible has happened without know- 
ing what it is. One feels as though one is in the outer darkness or 
as though one has made some terrible error - a fatal error. Our 
great help that we leaned on in the dark has deserted us and we 
are in a complete panic and we feel that we have got to have help. 
The panic of complete helplessness drives us to fantastic 
extremes, and feelings of mild helplessness drive us to a ridicu- 
lousness. We go from reading religious doctrine and occult 
practices to changing our diet. Or front absolute self-abasement 
or abandonment to every known and unknown fetish. 


It is hard to realize at the time of helplessness that that is the 
time to be awake and aware. The feeling of calamity and loss 
covers everything. We imagine that we are completely cut off 
and tremble with fear and dread. The more we are aware of 
perfection the more we will suffer when we are blind to it in 

But helplessness when fear and dread have run their course, as 
all passions do, is the most rewarding state of all. It is a time 
when our most tenacious prejudices are overcome. Our most 
tightly gripped resistances come under the knife and we are 
made more free. Our lack of independence in helplessness is our 
most detrimental weakness from the standpoint of art work. 
Stated positively, independence is the most essential character 
trait in an artist. 

Although helplessness is the most important state of mind the 
holiday state of mind is the most efficacious for artists: “Free 
and easy wandering” it is called by the Chinese sage Chuang 
Tzu. In free and easy wandering there is only freshness and 
adventure. It is really awareness of perfection within the mind. 
Everyone has memories of adventures within the mind, strange 
and pleasant memories, but not everyone is aware of adventures 
within the mind when they happen. 

I want to recommend the exploration of mind and the adven- 
tures within in the mind. It takes so much time, that is the 
difficulty. It is so hard to slow down to the pace where it is 
possible to explore one’s mind. And then of course one must go 
absolutely alone with not one thought about others intruding 
because then one would be off in relative thinking. 

Being an artist is a very solitary business. It is not artists that get 
together to do this or that. Artists just go into their studios 
everyday and shut the door and remain there. Usually when they 
come out they go to a park or somewhere where they will not 
meet anyone. A surprising circumstance that I will try to ex- 

The solitary life is full of terrors. If you went walking with 
someone that would be one thing but if you went walking alone 
in a lonely place that would be an entirely different thing. If you 
were not completely distracted you would surely feel “the fear” 
part of the time. I am not now speaking of the fear and dread of 


helplessness which is a very unusual state of mind. I am speaking 
of pervasive fear that is always with us. It is a constant state of 
mind of which we are not aware when we are with others. We 
are used to this fear and we know that when we are with anyone 
else, even a stranger, we do not have it. That is all that we do 
know about it. In solitude this fear is lived and finally under- 

Worse than the terror of fear is the Dragon. The Dragon re- 
ally pounds through the inner streets shaking everything and 
breathing fire. The fire of his breath destroys and disinte- 
grates everything. The Dragon is ^discriminating and leaves 
absolutely nothing in his wake. 

The solitary person is in great danger from the Dragon because 
without an outside enemy the Dragon turns on the self. In fact, 
self-destructiveness is the first of human weaknesses. When we 
know all the ways in which we can be self-destructive that will 
be very valuable knowledge indeed. 

The terrible thing is that we are not just the Dragon but the 
victim even when he is destroying someone else, and our suffer- 
ing is according to just how destructive he feels. So we cannot 
afford one moment of antagonism about anything. 

1 hope that it is quite plain that I am not moralizing, but simply 
describing some of the states of mind that are a hazard in 

Sometimes through hard work the Dragon is weakened. The 
resulting quiet is shocking. The work proceeds quickly and 
without effort. But anytime the Dragon may rouse himself and 
then one is driven from the studio. If he can then have a good 
contest with someone else he is thoroughly aroused and the next 
day he will go on and on about his victories round and round in 
the mind. I am sure you have noticed it. But if he only goes to the 
park he does not get completely roused and the next day he will 
perhaps be quiet. 

We cannot and do not slay the Dragon, that is a medieval idea, I 
guess. We have to become completely familiar with him and 
hope that he sleeps. The way things are most of the time, is that 
he is awake and we are asleep. What we hope is the opposite. 

I have known some very young artists who are familiar with the 
Dragon und know many of his ways. They also recognize fear 


and are independent of judgement. They recognize themselves as 
mere shadows in reality. They like to be alone and seem to have 
had plenty of practice of being alone since early childhood. All 
that is a tremendous head start in art work and these artists are 
correctly recognized as geniuses. 

We will all get there someday however and do the work that we 
are supposed to do. Of all the pitfalls in our paths and the 
tremendous delays and wanderings off the track I want to say 
that they are not what they seem to be. I want to say that all that 
seems like fantastic mistakes are not mistakes and all that seems 
like error is not error; and it all has to be done. That which 
seems like a false step is just the next step. 

You may as well give up judging your actions. If it is the 
unconditioned life that you want, you do not know what you 
should do or what you should have done. We will just have to 
let everything go. Everything we know and everything everyone 
else knows is conditioned. The conditoning goes all the way 
back through evolution. The conditioned life, the natural life 
and the conventional life are the same. 

Say to yourselves: I am going to work in order to see myself and 
free myself. While working and in the work I must be on the 
alert to see myself. When I see myself in the work I will know 
that that is the work I am supposed to do. I will not have much 
time for other people’s problems. I will have to be by myself 
almost all the time and it will be a quiet life. 

Success is contentment with no discontentment about anything, 
anything in the work or anything outside the work. 

What was the reaction of the person who first made a symmetri- 
cal house. He felt new contentment in the house. He could see 
that it reflected himself. He felt a satisfaction in having built it 
and perhaps an awareness of clarity in his mind as the means. 

A contentment with oneself that is success. Do not stop short of 
real contentment. You may as well never have been born if you 
remain discontented. 

Perfection is not necessary. Perfection you cannot have. If you 
do what you want to do and what you can do and if you can 
then recognize it you will be contented. You cannot possibly 
know what it will be but looking back you will not be surprised 
at what you have done. 


For those who are visual minded I will say: there seems to be a 
fine ship at anchor. Fear is the anchor, convention is the chain, 
ghosts stalk the decks, the sails are filled with Pride and the ship 
does not move. 

But there are moments for all of us in which the anchor is 
weighed. Moments in which we learn what it feels like to move 
freely, not held back by pride and fear. Moments that can be 
recalled with all their fine flavor. 

The recall of these moments can be stimulated by freeing 
experiences including the viewing of works of art. 

Artists try to maintain an atmosphere of freedom in order to 
represent the perfection of those moments. And others searching 
for the meaning of art respond by recalling their own free 


Advice to Young Artists 

The life of an artist is inspired, self sufficient and independent 
(unrelated to society). 

The direction of attention of an artist is towards mind in order 
to be aware of inspiration. 

Following inspiration life unfolds free of any influence. 

Finally the artist recognizes himself in the work and is happy 
and contented. Nothing else will satisfy him. 

An artist’s life is an unconventional life. It leads away from the 
example of the past. 

It struggles painfully against its own conditioning. It appears to 
rebel but in reality it is an inspired way of life. 


The Still and Silent in Art 

When interest in graphic art wanes I suppose it is possible to 
imagine its slipping out of sight but 1 do not believe in that 

My interest is in experience that is wordless and silent, and in 
the fact that this experience can be expressed for me in art work 
which is also wordless and silent. It is really wonderful to 
contemplate the experience and the works. I am sure there will 
always be some who make this response who will want to try to 
express it graphically. 

But with regard to the inner life of each of us it may be of great 
significance. If we can perceive ourselves in the work — not the 
work but ourselves when viewing the work then the work is 
important. If we can know our response, see in ourselves what 
ive have received from a work, that is the way to the under- 
standing of truth and all beauty. 

We cannot understand the process of life — that is everything 
that happens to everyone. But we can know the truth by seeing 
ourselves, by seeing the response to the work in ourselves. 

Those wo depend upon the intellect are the many. Those who 
depend upon perception alone are the few. 

We perceive — We see. We see with our eyes and we see with our 
minds. We want to see the truth about life and all of beauty. 
Both are a great mystery to us. 

Perceiving is the same as receiving and it is the same as respond- 
ing. Perception means all of them. It goes on all the time whether 
we are asleep or awake. When we wake we can recall that which 
we perceived while sleeping. 

Perception is a function. A function is part of a process. It does 
not identify. We are not identified by perception. 

We also think. Perception is the primary experience. Thinking; 
we consider that which we have perceived. It is a secondary 
experience. Thinking compares everything that we have per- 
ceived with everything that we are perceiving at the moment. 


There is no difference between thinking and relative living. 
Thinking leads to pride, identification, confusion and fear. 

Work is a function in which we seem to be identified. But in 
reality work is a part of the process of life in which we cannot 
perceive the beginning or end of our function. We have no 
understanding of the process of life, in whole, or in part, and we 
never will. We cannot therefore identify ourselves with our 
work. Since the process of life reaches to the furthest star the 
work of each of us is of no significance in the process. In the 
great process, in the sum total of the outward being of all living 
things our work is insignificant, infinitesimal and insignificant. 
This must be realized. 


What Is Real? 

We are in the midst of reality responding with joy. It is an 
absolutely satisfying experience but extremely elusive. It is 
elusive because wc must recognize so many other things at the 
same time. 

The memory of past moments of joy leads us on. The responses 
of happiness and joy are our first concern. 

Works of art have successfully represented our response to 
reality from the beginning. The artist tries to live in a way that 
will make greater awareness of the sublimity of reality possible. 
Reality, the truth about life and the mystery of beauty are all the 
same and they are the first concern of everyone. 

I want to emphasize the fact that we all have the same concern, 
but the artist must know exactly what the experience is. He 
must pursue the truth relentlessly. Once he sees this fact his feet 
are on the path. If you want to know the truth you will know it. 
The manipulation of materials in art work is a result of this state 
of mind. The artist works by awareness of his own state of 

In order to do so he must have a studio, as a retreat and as a 
place to work. In the studio an artist must have no interruptions 
from himself or anyone else. Interruptions are disasters. To hold 
onto the “silver cord”, that is the artistic discipline. The artist’s 
own mind will be all the help he needs. 

There will be moving ahead and discoveries made every day. 
There will be great disappointments and failures in trying to 
express them. An artist is one who can fail and fail and still go 

Let us now consider response to the concrete. Sometimes some 
things look very beautiful and we are moved to happiness and 
joy. Sometimes some things taste very good and we enjoy them 
and are satisfied. 

Let us look at our response to food from the beginning. We 
grow almost all of our own food. We enjoy digging and planting 


the seeds. We enjoy watching the plants grow and the fruit 
develop. Imagine a pear tree covered with golden fruit. Suddenly 
we pick the fruit and eat it and it is entirely destroyed. 

It is the same with animals. They are beautiful to us and we 
enjoy them but suddenly we kill them and eat them. 

Violence, destructiveness and possessiveness are an integral part 
of response to the concrete. This distresses some people very 
much and they would like to escape from response to the 
concrete in order to avoid them. Bur there is no escape. 

Besides violence, destructiveness and possessiveness we have to 
face frustrations. We think that we practice restraint in order to 
avoid frustrations. But restraint is not possible because we have 
to do what we have to do. 

We are most concerned because having experienced joy we know 
that it prevails and we think that with violence, destructiveness, 
possessiveness and frustration we are off the track. The tran- 
scendent response that is free from and unrelated to the concrete 
environment is so blissful and seems so much more innocent that 
we wish to seek to maintain it at the expense of a concrete 
response. But it is not possible and it is not desirable. We are as 
though on an adventurous journey and frustration merely points 
out those things to be avoided and the rest maintains us on our 
way. We cannot understand the details but we can know the truth 
about it and accept it all and be contented. 

Responding with joy is the path and we should work and eat 
with joy. The joy counts and nothing else does. 

There is in reality no need for self-sacrifice and no call for it. Do 
not settle for the experience of others. If you follow others you 
are in reality at a standstill, because their experience is in the 
past. That is circling. Even following your own past experience, 
is circling. Know your own response to your own work and to 
the work of others. 

To recall in one’s own mind past concrete experience is not 
circling. It is so much easier to respond accurately when alone. 
Experiences recalled are generally more satisfying and enlighten- 
ing than the original experience. It is in fact the only way to 
know one’s whole response. 

To illustrate recall I will quote Wordsworth on having seen 


“For oft, when on my couch I lie 
In vacant or in pensive mood, 

They flash upon that inward eye 
Which is the bliss of solitude; 

And then my heart with pleasure fills, 

And dances with the daffodils.” 

The straight forward path, as we so often have been warned, is 
extremely hard to maintain. Only joyful discoveries count. If 
you are not making them you are not moving. 

Now let us turn to abstract response, the response that we make 
in our minds free from concrete environment. We know that it 
prevails. We know that it is infinite, dimensionless, without 
form and void. But it is not nothing because when we give our 
minds to it we are blissfully aware. 

Being without imperfection it is perfection. And being without 
parts it is whole. 

It is from our awareness of transcendent reality and our 
response to concrete reality that our minds command us on our 
way — not really on a path or to a gate — but to full response. 
Complete consciousness is present to us at all times, every 
moment, but we reject it in order to maintain our prejudices, our 
ideas. But sooner or later we will relinquish our ideas in favour 
of response because the truth prevails. 

In the meantime we can see ourselves in our work. We can see 
ourselves moving along. We can see the steps we take. We can 
see that there is no such thing as going backward. We can be 

We can know every day what we must do and we will have 
plenty of energy with which to do it. We will know when it is 
something we want and we will know when it is something that 
we do not want. 

There is a great hunger and thirst in all of us for the truth 
whether we are aware of it or not. There is no-one unfeeling or 
unseeing. To think oneself unique is the height of ignorance. 
Appetite is of course positive but sometimes in moments of weak- 
ness we have an immense yearning to escape. This is a very strong 
feeling and very unattractive. If you feel y earning you should go 
off by yourself and give it full reign and then you will see that with 
great earnestness and determination it says, “me, me, me, me, me” . 


You will see that yearning is defiant and rebellious and, also, it 
exhausts itself which proves that it is unreal. We must give up 
the idea of salvation. You cannot be saved and the rest left. 

You must want joy for all not just for yourself. The exact same 
joy, want it whole-heartedly for all. To want joy for yourself is un- 
real, off the track and untrue. It is just as unreal to think you give 
joy to others. Each has its own joy. Joy is life. You cannot give life. 
You can want them to have it, that is as much as you can do. 

Joy is Perception. Perception, reception and response are all the 
same. Sometimes we perceive, sometimes we receive and some- 
times we respond but it is all the same. 

It is all awareness of reality. 

In a Chinese vase we can see all that the artist rejected in order 
to have as close an approximation as possible to his response to 
reality. We can feel as he felt looking at his work. The same 
response is made continually over a thousand years. Proving it is 
reality. That is what art is about. 

There is no such thing as “contemporary” art. Any material may 
be used but the theme is the same and the response is the same 
for all art work. 

There is one great difference front man to man that 1 must 
mention. It is a difference in willingness to perform his function. 
We, each of us, is born to a certain function. Sometimes our 
function is hidden from us by prejudice and fear. When an artist 
becomes aware of his exact function, that is when he knows, 
suddenly, exactly what he will do and how he will do it. We say 
that he has attained to his vision. If this happens when he is very 
young we say that he is a genius. It is sometimes baffling to the 
rest of us that we have to do so much work that is unrelated to 
art work. But looking back we can see the positive aspect of all 
of our actions. Without vision that is without exact awareness 
of our function we are discontented. When we are completely 
aware of our function we are contented. You can see that 
discontent is a positive state of mind urging us on to discover 
our function. 

Do not waste your feelings of discontent on society. When you 
feel discontented ask yourself “what do 1 want”, “what do I 
really want”. As soon as you ask yourself this question you will 
realize that discontent arises out of it. 


Your unwillingness to function may be so strong that you 
cannot even ask yourself this question, in which case you will 
seek help from others. But there will be no help for you 
anywhere. You will find your vision for yourself at some time 
when you are alone. 

Part of our resistance to function is general resistance to con- 
crete reality, to violence, destruction, possessiveness and frustra- 
tion, but most of it is due to Pride and Fear. 

When pride engages our minds it destroys everything that we 
see, because pride countenances only pride itself. There is 
another part of our minds that can see pride in action - raging 
against this, and raging against that. Sometimes when not 
otherwise engaged it rages against ourselves. Pride is responsible 
for all of our blindness and a great deal of our discomfort but in 
the end it will go down because it is not real. 

Pride and deceit are one and the same. All of our deceit is due to 
pride so you can see that it is a very tricky enemy. 

We are aware of fear as soon as we are alone. Some of us are so 
faint-hearted that we never allow ourselves to be alone for this 
reason. But artists must of necessity be alone and therefore they 
must recognize and overcome fear. This is a very long process. 

If we say that we do not have pride and fear that is one of pride’s 
deceptions, because we are all conditioned in pride and fear. 
Now we must consider the idea of Power because without 
freedom we cannot make our full response. With the idea of 
power in our minds we are subject to that power. If you believe 
in it, then it exists for you and you are naturally subject to it. But 
in reality there is no power anywhere. 

Speaking of physical power: water power is in reality that 
element following its natural course downhill even though it 
may flow through a dynamo. There is no entity that may be 
termed power just by itself. 

In the psychological field: still considering power we encounter 
one of our most troublesome concepts, the idea of authority and 
obedience. Using the parent-child situation as a base it is gener- 
ally believed that those in authority are on top and those in 
obedience below. 

I want to take time with this concept and prove to you beyond 
doubt that authority and obedience exist at the same time in 


each of us, that we are all in a state of obedient authority at all 
times, that it is a sublime state and that it is in fact a state of 
positive freedom. In order to do this I will speak only of 

Our lowest form of obedience is perhaps our obedience to 
animals. We strive to accurately obey animals providing them 
with water, food, clean housing, medicare and social security. In 
return, and all the time the animal obeys us. If it does not, it is 
considered to be a no-good animal. 

Our most heart-felt and anxious obedience is a mother’s obedi- 
ence to the infant, and her slavish obedience to her children as 
long as they are in her care. Also from the very first moment the 
infant and child must obey the mother. It is plain, is it not, that 
they are both in authority and both in obedience at the same 
time. The authority-obedience state of being is not a “some- 
times” state but a continuous state of being. We are always in 
authority and always in obedience. 

The obedience of children is generally worthless because they 
are inattentive and desultory. But there is obedience on the part 
of some adults that is marvelous in its expression. 

The obedience of performing musicians is extremely sensitive 
and accurate. There is no way to describe the reward of absolute 
obedience. Any response to art is obedience. I wish 1 could point 
out how authoritative art work is dependent on the obedient 
state of mind. Instead I will continue with concrete examples. 

A policeman obeys the commands that come over his radio and 
performs the dirtiest jobs in society, he also risks his life and as a 
result he has a certain authority. The President, having promised 
certain things to the people, obediently presents them to Con- 
gress and obediently carries out the dictates of Congress. He is 
the top authority because of his talent in obedience. 

The most troublesome anti-freedom concept is our belief in a 
transcendent supreme authority. It is recognition of our state of 
obedience that makes us postulate this authority. But when we 
see that all the authority there is, is within ourselves as a result 
of our obedience then we are free. This is the only road to 

The idea of leadership is another stumbling block to freedom. 
You must see through leadership to its non-existence. A leader 


exists only in the minds of his followers. Some leaders keep their 
followers from changing their minds by the use of fear. In reality 
there are no leaders or followers. Everyone is on his own private 

The first step in giving up the ideas of power and leadership is to 
give up wanting them for yourself. It sounds easy but your 
conditioning has been that power and leadership lead to free- 
dom regardless of the inherent contradiciton in that statement. 
What is our happy conclusion. It is that we have plenty of 
energy and we enjoy action. There is a purpose in our lives and it 
is in operation every minute. When we are right on the track we 
are rewarded with joy. We can know the whole truth with a 
request to our minds. If we are completely without direction we 
can withdraw and our minds will tell us the next step to take. 


What We Do Not See If We Do Not See 

We all believe in life. 

We feel a certain devotion. 

We feel called upon to live as good a life as we can. 

We feel that we are in the dark and that even in darkness we 
must struggle to know what is best to do. 

Not altogether but each one every moment. 

We feel that we should not live in just the same way as our 
ancestors lived. We feel that we should take a step forward. 

We know that this step will be in the dark and will require 

Our tremendous urge forward has a grip of steel. 

Because we are in the dark there is suffering and difficulty. 

Life is an adventure and adventures are difficult. 

They are hard work and one does not know how they will go on 
or how they will end. 

Nevertheless we have a tremendous appetite for the adventure 
of life. 

We are continually restless if we are not moving forward 
according to our potential. 

Although we are in the dark we are not without guidance. 

Our guidance is called inspiration. 

In crisis we say to ourselves: “What can I do”, and miraculously 
our mind answers and tells us what to do. 

This miraculous answer is called an idea very often but it is not 
an idea. 

There are different parts of the mind. 

When we are angry one part of the mind stands as though 
outside and we see ourselves raving. 

This part that stands as the outside of ourselves is the conscious 

The conscious mind that is aware of perfection, happiness and 
the sublime. 


When we see ourselves with the conscious mind angry and 
perhaps raving we feel guilty. 

We recognize that we are off the path — We are off the path of 
true life. 

The conscious mind says Yi?s and No. 

When it says: “Yes, go ahead, this is the way”, we feel happy. 
When it says: “You should not be here and you should not he 
doing this”. At those times we feel unhappy. 

Our problem is not that we do not see or hear the conscious 
mind hut that we do not obey. 

When we see ourselves angry and the conscious mind is saying 
“No” we still go on. 

And when it says: “You should not go” we rationalize and say: 
“Everyone else is going”. 

We knowingly disobey the conscious mind. 

In this life we are struggling from death into life. 

This has been remarked by all sages of all times. 

The adventure of life is the relinquishing of death and the 
acceptance of life. 

In the lives that we lead there is both life and death. 

The conscious mind is life and happiness and all things sublime. 
Death is all thing anti-life and truth. 

The most dangerous anti-life and destructive tendency is self 
deception known as fantasy. Imagining that we are other than 
we are. 

The opposite of fantasy, true knowledge of self, is the greatest 

The conscious mind is awareness of the sublime and it tells us 
what to do by showing us when we are off the track. 

Obedience to the conscious mind carries us forward to greater 

Disobedience of the conscious mind carries us backward to less 

With more accurate obedience we become rapidly more aware 
of the sublime: of beauty and happiness in life. 

We become more devoted to life. 

With disobedience we become less and less aware with less 
respect for life. 


This is the side of death in the adventure of life versus death. We 
will be disrespectful of life and everything in it, even of our- 
selves. We will be complaining and destructive and we will have 
resistance to living our own life. 

Other peoples lives will look better to us than our own life, more 
interesting and more rewarding. 

This is a very unnatural state of mind. If you have this state of 
mind you must recognize at once that you are very far off the 
track of life and happiness. 

To correct this state of mind you must say to yourself: “/ want 
to lire a true life. ” 

That is all you have to do to turn from death to life. 

Asking for life and truth you will be on the side of life and 
against death. 

I will not speak any more of death because it does not count. 
Reality is positive. 

Art work is a celebration of reality of the positive. 

A positive response to life (which we call happiness) is not a 
single response. It is infinitely various and goes far beyond what 
we are able to bear. 

We cannot reproduce reality or represent it concretely. It is 

In art work we represent our own happiness because of our 
awareness of the infinite sublimity of reality. 

Without awareness of beauty, innocence and happiness and 
without happiness oneself one cannot make works of art. 
Criticism and discontent expressed concretely are complaint and 
destructiveness. All negative expression is anti-life and anti-art. 

Besides recognition of the sublime there are two other elements 
in life that must be recognized and lived. 

They are self knowledge and potential. 

If you have enough respect for yourself you will ask yourself: 
“ What am I. ” 

If the answer is “I am a man” then the question becomes: “What 
is a man. 

When you come to the end of all ideas you will still have no 
definitive knowledge on the subject. Then you will have to wait 
for inspiration. 


Until you can clear up your true identity you will be tied to a 
repetition of this life. 

I have come to tell you the easiest way to find an answer to this 

First you must say to yourself: “I want to live a true life.” Then 
you must watch your mind to see the response that it is making 
to life. 

You will discover the true response that you yourself make to 
life undistorted by the ideas of others. 

You will make discoveries every day and they will all be very 

Just as consciousness of the sublime is the path of life so is self 
knowledge the path of life. 

Neither consciousness nor self knowledge can be pursued so- 

In groups we can compare our observations of life but life itself 
is lived by individuals. 

Changes in social living are the result of changes that take place 
in individuals. 

First some truth must be recognized by an individual (that is 
what we call inspiration) and then it must be expressed con- 
cretely and responded to by others. 

The cause of these changes is not with us but is a result of the 
battle of life and death. 

It is not just big inspirations that move life forward. 

Every time an individual asks his mind what to do and receives 
direction and acts upon it life moves forward. 

Since we almost all live in this way life moves forward very 
rapidly even though we have some tremendous setbacks. 

It is up to us only in that our pursuit of awareness is on the side 
of life. 

As life is recognized death is overcome. 

The only triumph in life is the triumph of life itself. 

Our awareness of it we feel as happiness. 

Art work represents this happiness. 

It does not represent life because life is infinite, dimensionless. It 
is consciousness of itself. And that cannot be represented. 

But our positive response to life can be, has been, and is 
represented in art work. 


And now we come to the last element to be considered, our 
individual potential. 

We, each of us feels that our life is not like anyone else’s life and 
that is absolutely true, infinitely true. 

To live an absolutely original life one has only to be oneself. 

In nature there is no sameness anywhere. There are no two rocks 
alike, no days alike, no moments alike even forever. 

And no two people alike or any moment of their lives. 

It follows from this that we cannot help one another since our 
responses are not alike. 

Since we are not alike the experience of others is of no use to us. 
This is particularly obvious when we wish to know what to do. 

e are all born with a certain potential. It is different from that 
of anyone else and it is necessary to life. 

e must unfold our potential as a contribution to life. 

We are born to do certain things and we are born to fill a certain 

If there is a bare spot on the ground the best possible weed for 
that environment will grow. 

In the same way our lives are created out of necessity and we are 
created with the potential to meet the necessity. 

The resistance to function, that is our resistance to the unfolding 
of our potential is due to the strength of the negative in life. 

e are born as verbs rather than nouns. 

We are born to function in life, to work and do all positive 
actions that will carry out our potential. 

When our potential is fully expended we will not be back. Our 
concrete existence will come to an end. 

Our ideas - deductions made from observed facts of life, are of 
no use in the unfolding of potential. 

Only obedience to the conscious mind counts. That is like saying 
only inspiration counts. 

Inspiration is a command. While you have a choice that is not 

If a decision is required that is not inspiration and you should 
doc do anything by decision. It is simply a waste of time. 

Things done by decision even if it is a summit decision are in 
effective and they will be undone. 

Only actions carried out in obedience to inspiration are effective. 


When we first begin art work we usually have a lot of ideas that 
we have to try. But nothing that we do really satisfies us. 

Finally we are absolutely defeated. We do not know what to do. 
1 want to try to explain to you that defeat is the beginning, not 
the end of all positive action. 

A baby learning to walk knows that if he stands on his feet he 
will fall. He knows that he cannot walk. He is defeated and 

This knowledge is an absolute prerequisite to inspiration. 
Defeated and helpless he receives the inspiration to get to his 

He is now defeated and helpless with regard to taking a step but 
again he is commanded forward. 

At every moment we are helpless and defeated and at every 
moment we are commanded forward by inspiration. 

There is no choice while we are on the true path. 

Our inspirations come as a surprise to us. 

Following them our lives are fresh and unpredictable. 

But if in disobedience we imitate the lives of others or follow 
concepts or precepts our lives will be dull and unsatisfying and 

The unfolding of potential in obedience to inspiration is happi- 
ness in this life. An arduous happiness in which we move 

Disobedience is unhappiness and moving toward unconscious- 

Happiness is self sought. It is life. 

You can only bring happiness to others by being happy yourself. 
You can only be happy by being on the path of your unfolding 

The path will be revealed to you by a request to your own 

If your mind is concerned with the political, with policies and 
methods, with causes and reforms your work will not be in the 
art field. 

The Greeks made a great discovery. They discovered that in 
Nature there are no perfect circles or straight lines or equal 

Yet they discovered that their interest and inclination was in the 
perfection of circles and lines, and that in their minds they could 
see them and that they were then able to make them. 

They realized that the mind knows what the eye has not seen but 
that what the mind knows is perfection. 

They determined that with the help of the conscious mind to 
attain to perfection. 

Because the Greeks sought the guidance of their conscious mind 
their work is very inspiring to us. Because they were inspired we 
are inspired by their work. 

Work that is guided by the conscious mind is immediately 
responded to by others. 

It is very easy to see how Greek art has been a very for-life- 
against-death action. 

Today we realize that perfection is out of reach for us because 
we ourselves are a part of Nature but it is still our greatest 

What we see now is that the path pointed out to us by the 
Greeks, the path guided by the conscious mind, is the path of life 
and happiness and accomplishment in this world. 

To discover the conscious mind in a world where intellect is held 
to be valuable requires solitude — quite a lot of solitude. 

We have been very strenuously conditioned against solitude. To 
be alone is considered to be a grievous and dangerous condition. 
So I beg you to recall in detail any times when you were alone 
and discover your exact response at those times. 

1 suggest to artists that you take every opportunity of being 
alone, that you give up having pets and unnecessary compan- 

You will find the fear that we have been taught is not just one 
fear but many different fears. 

^Tien you discover what they are they will be overcome. 

Most people have never been alone enough to feel these fears. 
But even without the experience of them they dread them. 

I suggest that people who like to be alone, who walk alone will 
perhaps be serious workers in the art field. 

All effective work in any field is dominated by the inspiration of 
individuals. All other work is evanescent. 

Inspiration is never destructive. 

This has been pointed out most effectively by Gandhi and after 
him by Martin Luther King. 

It never points to what someone else should do. It tells the 
individual what he must do. 

All of your inspirations will be related to your particular poten- 

Thus Martin Luther King suggested to the colored people that 
they must not try to change the white people but must change 
themselves. Not by policy or method but each one must change 

And I suggest to you that this way is not just for emergencies but 
is the way of life. 

The individual by himself must move forward by inspiration in 
order to live. Not by help from others or with knowledge from 
the past. Real life is lived by Self Discovery. 

In the night inspiration falls on the world like rain and pene- 
trates our minds when we are asleep. 

It is because of this that we are so eager, so desperate for sleep. 

It penetrates all clear minds. 

People with such minds wake up eager to carry out the com- 
mands of inspiration. 

They feel energetic, enthusiastic and are happy at the prospect of 

They also feel contentment and spontaneous gratitude and are 
filled with the spirit of adventure. 

If you think all night or if you are drugged inspiration cannot 
penetrate. Then with reluctance you will be forced to live a life 
of habit. 

If during the day you can keep from intellectualizing your life 
and keep from dreams you will double your possibility of being 
inspired. You will then move forward very quickly. 

It is commonly believed that accomplishment follows dreams. 
Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who dream 
dream and those who can act are active. 

The pretence of children is not a dream. They are playing and 
they know it. 

Children make a perfect response to life. They see everything as 
beautiful and perfect, often telling their parents how beautiful 
and wonderful they are. 

Children always love their parents with perfect love regardless 
of what the parents are like. They have to learn to bear 
frustration which makes them seem unhappy at times. 

Living without sufficient inspiration which is the incentive to life 
we tend to forget the perfect response we made as children and 
we become more and more blind. 

It is necessary to make an absolute about face and search out 
our true response. 

You will be thinking: “It is easy enough for children because 
they have no responsibilities”, but 1 assure you that you also can 
make a perfect response to life without worry or strain. 

You have to see what you have to do in your mind’s eye. 

You have to give it time. 

It is hard for your mind to get through to you because of the 
jumble it is in. 

With seeing the direction the energy necessary to carry out the 
action is given. When it is carried out the energy is taken away 
so that you can rest. 

If you feel tired it is because you cannot see. 

If you cannot see the next step you will take and the happiness 
you will know taking it. Then you cannot see. 

If you cannot see you must withdraw yourself till you see what 
your next action will be. 

In confusion and blindness there is no help for you anywhere 
except from your own mind. 

From your own mind there is all the help you need. 


The Current of the River of Life Moves Us 

What we really want to do is serve happiness. 

We want everyone to be happy, never unhappy even for a mo- 
ment. We want the animals to be happy. The happiness of every 
living thing is what we want. 

We want it very much but we cannot bring it about. 

We cannot make even one individual happy. 

It seems that this thing that we want most of all is out of our 

But we were born to serve happiness and we do serve it. 

The confusion is due to our lack of awareness of real happiness. 
Happiness is pervasive. 

It is everywhere. And everywhere the same. 

And it is forever. 

When people are really happy they say: “This will last forever 
even after death”, and that is true. 

When we are unhappy it is because something is covering our 
minds and we are not able to be aware of happiness. When the 
difficulty is past we find happiness again. 

It is not that happiness is all around us. That is not it at all. It is 
not this or that or in this or that. 

It is an abstract thing. 

Happiness is unattached. Always the same. It does not appear 
and disappear. It is not sometimes more and sometimes less. It is 
our awareness of happiness that goes up and down. 

Happiness is our real condition. 

It is reality. 

It is life. 

In this life, life is represented by beauty and happiness. 

If you are completely unaware of them you are not alive. 

The times when you are not aware of beauty and happiness you 
are not alive. 

When we see life we call it beauty. It is magnificent — wonderful. 
Vie may be looking at the ocean when we are aware of beauty 


but it is not the ocean. We may be in the desert and we say that 
we are aware of the “living desert” but it is not the desert. 

Life is ever present in the desert and everywhere, forever. 

By awareness of life we are inspired to live. 

Life is consciousness of life itself. 

The measure of your life is the amount of beauty and happiness 
of which you are aware. 

The life of an artist is a very good opportunity for life. 

When we realize that we can see life we gradually give up the 
things that stand in the way of our complete awareness. 

As we paint we move along step by step. We realize that we are 
guided in our work by awareness of life. 

We are guided to greater expression of awareness and devotion 
to life. 

We recognize the great exultation with life of great artists like Beet- 
hoven and we realize that all great artists praise and exult life. 
The life of an artist is completely unmaterialistic, because beauty 
and happiness and life are all the same and they are pervasive, 
unattached and abstract and they are our only concern. 

They are immeasurable, completely lacking in substance. They 
are perfect and sublime. 

This is the subject matter of art. 

Naturally artists become passionately devoted to life — not to 
material living, not to the conventional idea of life but to the life 
that we see. 

The fields speak and the hills speak “as though with tongues” 
and what they say is wonderful. 

You must say to yourself: “How can I best step into this state of 
mind and devote myself to the expression of life.” 

You must not be led astray into the illustration of ideas because 
that is not art work. It is ineffective even though it is often 
accepted for a short time. It does not contribute to happiness 
and it is finally discarded. 

The art work in the Metropolitan Museum or the British 
Museum does not illustrate ideas. 

The great and fatal pitfall in the art field and in life is depend- 
ence on the intellect rather than inspiration. 

Dependence on intellect means a consideration of observed facts 
and deductions from observation as a guide in life. 


Dependence on inspiration means dependence on consciousness, 
a growing consciousness that develops from awareness of 
beauty and happiness. 

To live and work by inspiration you have to stop thinking. 

You have to hold your mind still in order to hear inspiration 

Even now you can hear it saying, “Yes” and “No”. You look at 
a painting and say: “Is this it”, and your mind answers and says: 
“Yes” or “No”. 

If it says “Yes” it means that you have just made the work that 
you should have made. What your mind says never applies to 
anyone else. This work is what is possible for you according to 
your awareness of life. 

There are no criteria. No possibility for criticism. 

By the use of intellect we have created a world of ideas that does 
not actually exist. 

The political world is a structure conceived and agreed to by us 
but it is not a reality. 

You have been conditioned to believe that this political world is 
in fact real. 

With this conception it is believed that we have come into 
ownership of the world and that we are responsible for creating 
it. And with this concept we have placed ourselves in a condition 
of perpetual responsibility and reform. 

But since we are not creating the world, since it was created 
before us and we are merely in it, and since we do not own it, 
our whole political concept is false. 

It is untrue. It is not based in reality or true life. 

An artist must see this and give up all reform and political 

The world evolves due to changes that take place in individuals. 
By individuals 1 mean all living things. 

The world evolves due to a growing awareness in the lives of all 
things and is expressed in their actions. 

The actions of all things are guided by a growing awareness of life. 
We call it inspiration. 

Living by inspiration is living. Living by intellect — by compari- 
sons, calculations, schemes, concepts, ideas — is all a structure of 
pride in which there is not beauty or happiness — no life. 


The intellectual is in fact death. 

I will give you an example: If you were at the beach and keenly 
aware of the shining waves, the fragrant air, the freedom of 
mind, feeling happy and free — that is reality. That is life. 

Now if someone came on the beach with a radio and tuned it to 
the news - that is the intellectual and political. You would feel 
the shock of moving suddenly from reality to unreality. You 
would be depressed and irritated. 

The political is a negation of life. It is negative living, anti-life. 
The divide and own concept. The we are the creators concept is 
the concept of pride. Where pride walks nothing of life remains. 
It is the supreme destroyer of life. Pride leaves nothing in its 
path. It is death in life. 

All great visionaries agree that we move in this life from death to 
life, from error to awareness of truth, from negation of life to 
total awareness and devotion, passionate devotion to life, from 
death to everlasting life, from blindness to enlightenment, from 
unconsciousness and dreams to consciousness. 

I will describe to you the negative attitude toward life even 
though it is ineffective and of no account. The negative person 
has no respect for life, his own or anyone’s. He is complaining 
and destructive and convinced that to get ahead in life he must 
take advantage of others. He is going to fight, born to fight - for 
his rights, for his ideas, in self defence and for his advantage. 

All aggressiveness is negative regardless of the cause, except in 
the defence of innocence. (In the defence of innocence we will all 
be very brave. No practice is needed.) 

We must not worry about the negative attitude in others. When 
I say the negative is of no account I mean it is ineffective 
negatively in life. Since it is a part of life and life is positive it is 
of course positive. And we can see dimly how the Mafia for 
instance preying on the weak makes them turn away from pride 
in themselves. 

Evil in life is the actions that result from lack of respect for 

That is enough for death, now for real life. 

In real life we get everything we want and need, just like the 
grass. It is all laid on. 

Fate is kind. 


You will look hack in old age and say: “I had everything 1 really 

When we see someone who has been poor all his life we think 
that he has been deprived hut in reality he was unable to want 
more than he had. His lack of potential for life limited his life. 
He lacked energy, zest and gratitude. 

Fate is kind. 

At every moment we are presented with happiness, the sublime, 
absolute perfection. We are unable to grasp it due to the pull of 
death, commonly known as weakness. 

Fate is kind. 

In that beside the pull of death there is the pull of life, which is 
our desire to live fully and truly, a very strong pull indeed. When 
we engage in the battle with death the pull of life always wins. If 
death wins temporarily it means the battle is not over. 

If you want life on your side or to be on the side of life against 
death you must surrender completely to life. You will have to 
make an about face because you have been conditioned to 

There are lots of parents who would like their children to he 
artists but when they get to this point of surrender to life they 
change their minds. Everyone who cannot himself surrender to 
life will be antagonistic. 

It is in this way that an artist becomes a pariah. He is described 
as egocentric when in reality he sacrifices the most. The children 
of artists are very well off because their parents are guided by 
life, and life dictates that innocence must be protected as the 
source. The wives of artists also if they are more innocent than 
their husbands will be protected. 

If you are on the side of life you are warned not to offend against 
innocence and if you disobey your own mind you are rendered 

It is the same with painting. If the word from your mind is that 
the painting is not good enough and you decide to fight the 
world for it, you have rejected your inspiration and are rendered 


But when you give up the painting and return for help, inspira- 
tion like a good mother returns and you are once more on your 



Hold fast to your life, to beauty and happiness and inspiration, 
and to obedience to inspiration. Do not imitate others or seek 
advice anywhere except from your own mind. No-one can help 
you. No-one knows what your life should be. No-one knows 
what your life or life itself should be because it is in the process 
of being created. 

Life moves according to a growing consciousness of life and is 
completely unpredictable. 

If you live according to human knowledge, according to precept, 
values and standards, you live in the past. 

If you live entirely in the past you will not know beauty or 
happiness and you will not in fact live. 

You must believe in life. Believe that you can know the truth 
about life. 

You must reject the idea that mankind is in control. That is the 
same as an ant believing that the anthill is life. 

Since we are not in control we need not worry about life, nor 
about our own lives but wait in readiness. 

Suffering in life being a part of life is also positive, since all of life 
is positive. 

Suffering means that you have engaged to resist death and the 
battle of life and death is on. Life will win. 

It was the pull of life that incited you to resist death. That is why 
I say that the current of the river of life moves us. Awareness of 
life, beauty and happiness is the current of the river. 

With great awareness we move rapidly. With no awareness we 
do not move. Life moves on and we remain in death, in 
confusion and lack of happiness. 

I am sure that all of you have had the vision of stepping into a 
boat and casting off and being afloat on the river of life. That 
vision is at the urging of life itself. 

Those with a strong urge to adventure will move rapidly. 

Those with security as a goal will not move. 

Truth is the goal. 

Truth at whatever the cost — the cost is high in suffering. 

Those that want to live a true life that is a life that is guided by 
the conscious mind are surrounded by multitudes that are 
practically dedicated to ancestor worship. 


The multitudes that believe that right and wrong are established 
and that all that is required is conformity. 

The multitudes that give lip service to the transcendent but when 
the chips are down live a completely materialistic life of con- 
quest and possession. 

We don’t have to think about the multitudes since all things in 
life are positive but 1 assure you that the state of mind necessary 
to create effective art work is just the opposite of the state of 
mind of the multitudes. 

But we are still not rebels. 

To rebel means to destroy existing circumstances. It is anti-life 
since life is the real creator. 

I think you can see that it is life itself that creates life out of 


Beauty Is the Mystery of Life 

When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of 
life. It is not in the eye it is in the mind. In our minds there is 
awareness of perfection. 

We respond to beauty with emotion. Beauty speaks a message to 
us. We are confused about this message because of distractions. 
Sometimes we even think that it is in the mail. The message is 
about different kinds of happiness and joy. Joy is most success- 
fully represented in Beethoven’s ninth Symphony and by the 

All art work is about beauty; all positive work represents it and 
celebrates it. All negative art protests the lack of beauty in our 

When a beautiful rose dies beauty does not die because it is not 
really in the rose. Beauty is an awareness in the mind. It is a 
mental and emotional response that we make. We respond to 
life as though it were perfect. When we go into a forest we do 
not see the fallen rotting trees. We are inspired by a multitude of 
uprising trees. We even hear a silence when it is not really silent. 
When we see a newborn baby we say it is beautiful — perfect. 
The goal of life is happiness and to respond to life as though it 
were perfect is the way to happiness. It is also the way to 
positive art work. 

It is not in the role of an artist to worry about life — to feel 
responsible for creating a better world. This is a very serious 
distraction. All of your conditioning has been directed toward 
intellectual living. This is useless in art work. AJ1 human know- 
ledge is useless in art work. Concepts, relationships, categories, 
classifications, deductions are distractions of mind that we wish 
to hold free for inspiration. 

There are two parts of the mind. The outer mind that records 
facts and the inner mind that says “yes” and “no”. When you 
think of something that you should do the inner mind says “yes” 
and you feel elated. We call this inspiration. 


For an artist this is the only way. There is no help anywhere. He 
must listen to his own mind. 

The way of an artist is an entirely different way. It is a way of 
surrender. He must surrender to his own mind. 

When you look in your mind you find it covered with a lot of 
rubbishy thoughts. You have to penetrate these and hear what 
your mind is telling you to do. Such work is original work. All 
other work made from ideas is not inspired and it is not art 

Art work is responded to with happy emotions. Work about 
ideas is responded to with other ideas. There is so much written 
about art that it is mistaken for an intellectual pursuit. 

It is quite commonly thought that the intellect is responsible for 
everything that is made and done, it is commonly thought that 
everything that is can be put into words. But there is a wide 
range of emotional response that we make that cannot be put 
into words. We are so used to making these emotional responses 
that we are not consciously aware of them till they are repre- 
sented in art work. 

Our emotional life i really dominant over our intellectual life 
but we do not realize it. 

You must discover the art work that you like and realize the 
response that you make to it. You must especially know the 
response that you make to your own work. It is in this way that 
you discover your direction and the truth about yourself. If you 
do not discover your response to your own work you miss the 
reward. You must look at the work and know how it makes you 

If you are not an artist you can make discoveries about yourself 
by knowing your response to work that you like. 

Ask yourself: “What kind of happiness do I feel with this music 
or this picture.” 

There is happiness that we feel without any material stimulation 
We may wake up in the morning feeling happy for no reason. 
Abstract or non objective feelings are a very important part of 
our lives. Personal emotions and sentimentality are anti-art. 

We make art work as something that we have to do not 
knowing how it will work out. When it is finished we have to see 
if it is effective. Even if we obey inspiration we cannot expect all 


the work to be successful. An artist is a person who can 
recognize failure. 

If you were a composer you would not expect everything you 
played to be a composition. It is the same in the graphic arts. 
There are many failures. 

Art work is the only work in the world that is unmaterialistic. 
All other work contributes to human welfare and comfort. You 
can see from this that human welfare and comfort are not the 
interests of the artist. He is irresponsible because his life goes in 
a different direction. His mind will be involved with beauty and 
happiness. It is possible to work at something other than art and 
maintain this state of mind and be moving ahead as an artist. 
The immaterial interest is essential. 

The newest trend and the art scene are unnecessary distractions 
for a serious artist. He will be much more rewarded responding 
to art of all times and places. Not as art history but considering 
each piece and its value to him. 

You can’t think “My life is more important than the work” and 
get the work. You have to think the work is paramount in your 
life. An artist’s life is adventurous. One new thing after another. 

I have been talking directly to artists but it applies to all. Take 
advantage to the awareness of perfection in your mind. See 
perfection in every thing around you. See if you can discover 
your true feelings when listening to music. Make happiness your 
goal. The way to discover the truth about this life is to discover 
yourself. Say to yourself: “What do I like and what do I want.” 
Find out exactly what you want in life. Ask your mind for 
inspiration about everything. 

Beauty illustrates happiness; the wind in the grass, the glistening 
waves following each other, the flight of birds, all speak of 

The clear blue sky illustrates a different kind of happiness and 
the soft dark night a different kind. There are an infinite number 
of different kinds of happiness. 

The response is the same for the observer as it is for the artist. 
The response to art is the real art field. 

Composition is an absolute mystery. It is dictated by the mind. 
The artist searches for certain sounds or lines that are acceptable 
to the mind and finally an arrangement of them that is accept- 

able. The acceptable compositions arouse certain feelings of 
appreciation in the observer. Some compositions appeal to some 
and some to others. 

But if they are not accepted by the artist’s mind they will not 
appeal to anyone. Composition and acceptance by mind are 
essential to art work. Commercial art is consciously made to 
appeal to the senses which is quite different. Art work is very 
valuable and it is also very scarce. It takes a great deal of 
application to make a composition that is totally acceptable. 
Beethoven’s symphonies with every note composed represent a 
titanic human effort. 

To progress in life you must give up the things that you do not 
like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You 
must find the things that you do like. The things that are 
acceptable to your mind. 

You can see that you will have to have time to yourself to find 
out what appeals to your mind. While you go along with others 
you are not really living your life. To rebel against others is just 
as futile. You must find your way. 

Happiness is being on the beam with life — to feel the pull of life. 


p. 13 

Untitled, i960 

Blue ink on paper, 22,9.x ’’,9 cm 
Annemarie and Gianfranco Verna, Zurich 

P- ^7 

Untitled, 1961 

Warercolor, pencil and china ink on paper, 22,9 x22,9 
cm Private Collection, Basle 

P- 5 5 

Starlight, 1962 
Oil on canvas, 30,5x 30,5 cm 
Private Collection, Basle 
p. 65 

Water, 1962 

Warercolor, pencil and ink on paper, 30,2x30,2 cm 
Private Collection 

p. 109 

Untitled, 1977 

Warercolor and china ink on paper, 22,9x22,9 cm 
Private Collection 
p. 133 

Untitled, 1978 

Warercolor and ink on rice paper, 22,9x22,9 cm 
Annemarie and Gianfranco Verna, Zurich 
p. 151 

Untitled, 1978 

Warercolor and colored china ink on paper, 22,9x22,9 cm 
The Jedlicka Family 

1 7 1 

r>- 87 


Preface 5 

Notes 1 5 

Answer to an Inquiry 19 


The Untroubled Mind 35 

Willie Stories 57 

Parable of the Equal Hearts 59 

Lecture at Cornell University 61 

On the Perfection Underlying Life 6 7 

Advice to Young Artists 85 

The Still and Silent in Art 89 

What Is Real? 93 

What We Do Not See If We Do Not See m 

The Current of the River of Life Moves Us 13 5 
Beauty Is the Mystery of Life 153 

Notes to the Texts 16 1 

Illustrations 171